Criminal mischief

Those of us who work in the District of Columbia are accustomed to armed officers of various agencies greeting the commuter trains and mingling on the subway platforms, chem-bio sensors in the stations, surface-to-air missles on the Mall, black vans with darkened windows parked at street corners with the motor running. It becomes habitual to keep moving along, don't let your eyes linger.

Every day we are vividly reminded of the risks we face doing our daily routines. You're taking your life in your hands just going to work. It isn't the terrorists I worry about so much as public transit agencies. I'm convinced they're out to get us.

Weeks ago, 20 Metro passengers were injured when one subway car violently kissed another. At my station, a 400 square foot chunk of ceiling collapsed during the start of rush hour. I've lost track of the number of people injured or maimed by the Metro's escalators, which are more often than not kept out of service as a public health measure.

This is the Metro system of the nation's capital, where they know how to help commuters deal with a crumbling infrastructure. They arrest you.

They'll arrest you for talking too loudly on your cell phone at an outdoors station, even if you're pregnant, and they'll arrest you for chewing the last bite of your candy bar. In 2000, Metro cops handcuffed a 12-year-old girl for eating a french fry.

I worry about slurping coffee puddling on the lid, wonder whether the act of putting gum in my mouth will attact law enforcement scrutiny.

Not long ago, a wheelchair-bound commuter with cerebral palsy cursed when he was unable to find a working elevator to exit the subway system. Metro cops gave him a ticket.

Your government, at your service.


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